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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy
Gane, Roy E.

Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005 pp. xxii + 394. $44.50


Description: Through the swirling smoke of Aaron's incense, and of scholarly theories, the present volume steps toward the meaning enacted on "the Day of Purgation," commonly known as Yom Kippur or "the Day of Atonement." By treating moral evil both as relational/legal breach and as pollution, the Israelite system of "purification offerings" = so-called "sin offerings" addresses both the standing and state of YHWH's people. This system shows the way not only to freedom from condemnation but also to healing of character, which is defined in terms of loyalty to YHWH. Freedom and healing come together on the Day of Purgation, when purification rituals benefit those who show themselves loyal to YHWH by affirming the freedom from condemnation that they have previously received. The effects of purification rituals on YHWH's sanctuary and community profile harmony between justice and kindness in the character of YHWH as he deals with imperfect people of various kinds of character by pardoning and clearing the loyal but condemning the disloyal. Thus, Gane ultimately affirms Milgrom's seminal insight that theodicy is foundational to the Israelite expiatory system. Gane's conclusions are derived from exegetical study of Hebrew ritual texts, informed by controls to ritual analysis developed in the course of prior research through critical examination of existing ritual theories and by adapting a systems theory approach to human activity systems.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Pentateuch, Leviticus, Literature

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Review by Christian Eberhart
Published 7/1/2006
Citation: Christian Eberhart, review of Roy E. Gane, Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2006).


Review by Jay Sklar
Published 4/28/2007
Citation: Jay Sklar, review of Roy E. Gane, Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2007).


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